Dating as far back as 1959, late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, made his very first speech addressing the importance of bilingual education. A year later, studying a second language became compulsory for all students in primary schools, and later in 1966, for secondary school students. Therefore, whether your child is in preschool or has just started primary school, being exposed to both the English language and their respective mother tongue languages is part and parcel of their learning journey. But why make such a method of education mandatory for all students? Beyond the clear reasons such as retaining some form of connection to one’s cultural heritage, researchers have found that learning two languages has several benefits. What are these benefits and how does Tots & Teddies, a bilingual preschool and childcare centre, remain front runners in the childhood education sector in Singapore, especially when it comes to developing bilingual proficiency amongst students? We cover them all in this blog.
Benefits that Bilingualism Offers
On November 24, 2021, the Education Minister stated that bilingualism will be more “important, pertinent, and salient than ever before”. According to the minister, bilingualism is more than the mere understanding of languages as it provides individuals with a shared set of values. However, beyond these, researchers have also found that being proficient in more than one language stimulates mental development. Other benefits of being proficient in English and another language include:
1. Improved Focus & Creativity
Research shows that bilingualism helps students learn and process information at a faster pace. Bilingual students were also shown to be more capable of focusing on a task and ignoring redundant background information more effectively. Moreover, they are also better able to shift their focus to other tasks and zone in without hassle. This mental ability to shift and focus on something builds mental flexibility over time, giving bilingual students an edge when it comes to acclimatising themselves to novel experiences. This mental flexibility and adaptability also translate to the ability to think creatively and solve complex problems with ease while leveraging their capacity for divergent thinking.
2. Better Academic Results
Studies show that learning and using English only requires the use of one side of the temporal lobe, while speaking other languages like Mandarin require the use of both left and right temporal lobes. As these children grow up utilsing various aspects of their brain’s function, permanent neural pathways are formed. This, in turn, boosts their ability to multitask, which as a result, will aid in them being academically successful.
How the Tots & Teddies Curriculum Impacts the Development of Bilingualism
From all of the above, it is clear to see that developing bilingual proficiency is indeed important for both the cognitive development and academic success of any and every child. But how does Tots & Teddies and our curriculum ensure that all students acquire high bilingual proficiency?
Understanding the Tots & Teddies Curriculum
Beyond having a team of highly trained educators in Tots & Teddies who are well-versed with our curriculum goals, we’ve taken the time to carefully craft a well-balanced curriculum that has proven efficient for both international and local kids. Our curriculum and pedagogy focuses on holistic development while aligning with the Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) framework. Some of the learning areas covered in our preschool curriculum, for instance, include the “Chinese Language”. These are all done to ensure that students who enrol in our bilingual immersion preschool are Primary 1 ready by the end of Kindergarten 2.
The Impact of the Tots & Teddies Approach on Bilingualism
One of the key desired outcomes of our curriculum is to establish a solid foundation in literacy. Even in a classroom with a diverse range of students, simply adopting a thematic and inquiry-based approach as well as constantly exposing students to both the English and Chinese language, we are able to increase proficiency. For example, when kids enrol in our bilingual preschool, learning Chinese is an immersive experience. Through play, storytelling, songs, rhymes, and other planned experiences, active learning is encouraged. This means that overtime, even preschool children are able to develop the necessary speaking skills, pick up simple Chinese vocabulary and master the skills of writing. But that does not mean that English is put on the backburner. Our learning environment is designed to be a print-rich space and features both English and Chinese books of various genres. From educators that model good verbal language to special Reading Programmes, bilingual proficiency is naturally developed. Even in our student care centres, also known as Tween Works, subject specific revisions and homework supervision that can aid in the development of bilingual proficiency form a core part of our quality programme.
Enrol Your Child in a Bilingual Preschool & Childcare in Singapore
At Tots & Teddies, it is our aim to be recognised as a one of the leading bilingual full-day infant and childcare centre in Singapore. We offer world-class education with our holistic curriculum and aim to ensure that every student that enrols in our bilingual preschool and student care can build their knowledge and proficiency in languages in a safe space. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive curriculum that supports the development of bilingual proficiency. Alternatively, schedule a tour of our day care centre.